MALACANANG on Thursday described as "premature" claims that the provision on the substitution of candidates under existing laws is being "abused" as none among those who filed their certificates of candidacy (CoC) for the 2022 elections has been substituted so far.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. made the statement after Senate President Vicente "Tito" Sotto 3rd joined the calls for the review and amendment of provision on the substitution of candidates as it has been "abused."
"Hindi ko alam kung saan ang pang-aabuso kasi wala pa namang nagsa-substitute, so siguro po magkakaroon tayo ng conclusion kung meron ngang nag-substitute (I don't know where the abuse is since no substitution has taken place so far. I think we can have a conclusion once there is substitution)," Roque said during an interview with GMA News' Unang Balita.
"So sa ngayon po wala pa namang kahit sinong nagsa-substitute, premature po para sabihing inaabuso (For now since there has yet to be a substitution, it's premature to say that there's been an abuse)," he added.
Sotto, who is running for vice president, on Tuesday said he sees some "abuse" by political groups of the period for substitution.
"The problem in the law is the third option which is 'when a candidate withdraws.' That is what is being abused," Sotto told reporters in a text message.
"We should amend that and remove it completely. If you are not ready and unprepared, why are you running for public office?... subject to all kinds of abuses. It should be amended," he added.
This came days after Sen. Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa's unexpected filing of his CoC for the presidential derby, under the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) wing backed by President Rodrigo Duterte.
Dela Rosa, a former police general who has been a senator just since 2019, during interviews has been very vocal in expressing his readiness to withdraw from the presidential race in favor of Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Caprio.
Dela Rosa is also a member of Duterte-Carpio's Hugpong ng Pagbabago party.
The Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats (CMD) also admitted putting a member, Anna Capela Velasco, as a placeholder for Duterte-Caprio should she change her mind about not running for president.
Various groups have been prodding Duterte-Carpio to run for president, but she said that she will not be running for the higher position and wanted to finish her term as mayor "for the third and last time in my life as a politician."
The 43-year-old mayor led pre-election surveys on presidential contenders who may replace her father when he steps down in 2022.
Duterte, the incumbent president, was a substitute PDP-Laban candidate in 2016.
Article 9, Section 77 of the Batas Pambansa 881 or the Philippines' Omnibus Election Code allows the substitution of candidates in case of death, disqualification or withdrawal of another.
"If after the last day for the filing of certificates of candidacy, an official candidate of a registered or accredited political party dies, withdraws or is disqualified for any cause, only a person belonging to, and certified by the same political party may file a certificate of candidacy to replace the candidate," the provision read.
For the May 9, 2022 national and local polls, the Commission on Elections (Comelec) allowed the filing of CoCs for substitute candidates until November 15.